Saturday, April 19, 2014

THE DAY OF MULCH PART ONE

Black mulch
It was a long day yesterday...

I arrived at 8am, the mulch arrived about 9am, and I left at 6pm.

This is a short blog entry just to let everyone know I survived and the mulch is down.  Full pictures and post when it's done, but here is a teaser picture:

Mulch between raised beds
I got the entire garden covered and still have quite a bit left.  That means I didn't make it all three/four inches deep so today, Saturday, will be part two!

I did this all by myself yesterday as 2nd Man had to stay home and work, but...he did surprise me with a great meal when I got back into town:

Meatloaf and Mac and Cheese
Homemade meatloaf with Mac and Cheese.  There is also a glass of wine (or two) just out of picture range.  Before you ask, yes, I DID eat all of this plate!

It was a tiring day but it ended well.  Last night was early to bed and today was early to rise.  We'll be finishing the mulch and I'll have zen machine time.  2nd Man will be cleaning.  It will be a good day again, I'm sure of it.

Hope you have a great weekend and Happy Easter!

Updates later!

Friday, April 18, 2014

GOOD DAY TO MULCH

I'm off today, our office is closed, so no work for me.  No office work anyway, this is farm work (the best kind, right?)


As this posts, I'm at the farm dealing with a delivery of 10 cubic yards of mulch.  I am imagining a giant, mountain size load of mulch that blocks out the sun, but we'll see!  And of course, I'll have pictures to share.

Now that irrigation is working (knock on wood) and plants are growing (knock on wood) and the weather is cooperating, it's time to fill up the garden with the mulch so that the weeds/grass start getting smothered (they are already springing up around the weed block cloth, ugh).


Thursday, April 17, 2014

FLOWERS ALONG FENCE LINES, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Flowers along fence line, image via Davesgarden.com
A 'two-fer' today.  While the above photo looks like this person's property needs to be mowed a bit (I should talk, LOL!), we like the idea of the flowers along the fence line.  Below is a raised bed also built along a fence line and we like it for the same reason.  There are a lot of fence lines at the farm and while many are covered by trees and brush and therefore aren't visible, there are sections we can see that are just a fence...nothing pretty to catch your eye.
 
Recently, I've been thinking of taking the tiller and just going along the fence line to loosen the soil and grass, and then just planting some flowering bushes.  We'd need drought tolerant plants of course but I think some Texas Natives would work. Once I'm done with the garden work, this might be the next project just to see how it works.
 
Be inspired!
 
Fence flowerbed, image courtesy of Southernliving.com
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PULL APART PIZZA BREAD RECIPE

Here is a recent discovery, and while it is quite decadent, it's so good we make a batch on occasion when we want a quick snack instead of a full meal.  I have no idea where the original recipe came from but it's all over the Internet.  In case you have never had it, or seen it, here it is:




These are the ingredients.  Very simple and actually very adaptable if you wanted to play around with the flavors, different cheeses, meats, seasonings, etc.

Begin by cutting up the pizza dough.  It unrolls out flat, I just cut it in no particular way, just into easier to manage pieces.  One step I left out of the photography is rolling them into balls.  You can leave them like this, we have done that, it just makes for a bit denser loaf.



Next, do the same thing with the pepperoni. You want it in small pieces so that it will be distributed more evenly throughout the batch.


Then, just put them all together into a bowl and gently toss.  I use my hands, and with the oil in there, it mixes pretty easily.  Be careful not to smash it together, you want the pieces of dough to just sort of touch, this is how it pulls apart in the end.



Lastly, just put it all in the Bundt pan and that's it, you are ready to bake it.  You can layer if you prefer, a few pieces of dough, some pepperoni, cheese, more dough balls, etc.



Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden.  It's kind of hard to judge because you want to make sure the dough is cooked but 30-40 minutes is about right.  







Then you just pull it apart and it's got all sorts of gooey, cheesy, pizza goodness inside.
Pull apart pizza bread
We like to serve it with a side of warm marinara sauce for dipping.  YUMMY!

Ingredients:

2 cans pizza dough
2 cups shredded cheese (we used a pizza blend)
1 cup grated parmesan
1 seven ounce package pepperoni
1/3 cup olive oil
garlic powder, red chili flakes and black pepper (to taste)

Follow above instructions and enjoy!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TRES LECHES CAKES IN JARS FOR THE WEDDING

So this past weekend was 2nd Man's Niece's wedding.  She and her fiancé both wanted a casual and stylish at home wedding.  They asked 2nd Man if he would make his famous "Tres Leches" (Three Milks cake, click here if you've never heard of it) as their wedding cake.  When we saw the invitation, we had a thought.  Would they like cakes cooked in jars?
They loved the idea since their theme included mason jars.



2nd Man was in charge of the inside of the jar (the cake) and I was in charge of the outside.  We decided to pull elements from the invitation into the jar decor.  The first thing I did was find the exact same purple and white string from their invitation.  I  found office supply store hang tags and swapped out the string.



Then I purchased a stamp set with letters of the alphabet and an ink pad.  This way, I was able to recreate their initials as they had them on their invitation.  "A heart E".  I stamped them all, one letter at a time, and then went back and stuck a red heart sticker in the middle of each one.  We think it looked pretty nice when compared to the invitation. 




The other theme from their invitation was the burlap and lace.  I found some burlap and cut it into squares.  Then I bought a spool of lace ribbon and cut it into strips.

This is what it looked like when I was done.  I would put the metal canning lid on, then a piece of burlap with the lace in a strip one direction and the hang tag with purple/white string the other direction.  Lastly, as I was holding it all in place, I screwed the ring onto the jar to hold it all into place. 

As much as I could get the decorations ready, they still had to be baked, the tres leches poured over and allowed to soak in and whipped cream topping put on, all before I could decorate.  The batter was poured in each jar and baked, sixteen at a time, in the oven.


Here are seventy two jars, filled and baked, waiting for whipped topping and then the jar decor.  At this point, only 24 more to go!





This is what they looked like in the back of the car, ready for their wedding debut.
Wedding cakes in jars, burlap and lace
Lastly, here they are on the table at their house.  We made 96 of them.  I believe 90 people or so RSVP'd so we we figured better to have a few extra, plus the jars come in cases of twelve.  They were, from all outward appearances and comments from everyone, a huge success.

The wedding was just beautiful, "E" looked SO pretty in her dress and "A" was smiling from ear to ear throughout the entire event.  A really nice touch came at the end of the ceremony after they exchanged rings.  They pulled out a box, opened it together and beautiful monarch butterflies flew out and into the yard.



You know, I grew up an only child, so we just never had a big family.  It was just Mom and Dad and both sets of grandparents most to the time for any special occasion.  To be welcomed into this wonderful and large family means the world to me.  I am truly blessed!



LATE CHILL WITH RAIN


The farm is somewhere in the middle of this monsoon like mess.  And to top it off, it is now in the low 40's.  The farm will dip into the upper 30's.  No freeze thankfully, for us anyway, but dang, this is a record breaking low temperature for our area this time of year.  Brrr!  Stay warm and dry wherever you are!

Monday, April 14, 2014

RAISED BED GARDEN UPDATE


Here are two of the garden beds.  They have survived their first week with the automated watering system, yay!  We only had yesterday with rain since last weekend and this is what they looked like.  Still doing well. 

4x4 raised bed herbs
The one above is the herb bed of course.  We just planted a few of the basic herbs we use most often.  We have the rosemary on the porch, and then I have marjoram and sage in town that I need to get in the ground next weekend.  Future seasons will expand our herbs to more culinary varieties and hopefully medicinal, tea and others.

4x4 raised pepper and eggplant bed
This is another of the 4x4 beds.  We decided to go for three eggplants (the two Ichiban we've grown before, in town, and they did very well) since we enjoy them,  then we're trying the Orient Express variety.  Next, we added the TAM jalapeño, and lastly a poblano pepper, which we love to cook with.

We have a 4x8 bed and another 4x4 bed (those are the last two currently irrigated beds) that we have plants in, more on that in another update this weekend when I get the pictures.

Fingers crossed that they all continue on their journey!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

RANDOM SUNDAY

View out the master bedroom window at the farm
It was a gray and rainy day.  But we got some inside stuff done so that's always a good day.  Moved some stuff around, put up a shelf, cleaned (where DO all the dead bugs come from in a week?), and checked the garden.  The automatic watering (not counting rain, since today was the first rain all week) is doing great and the plants are starting to grow. 

Yesterday was the wedding, whirlwind day but so much fun.  2nd Man's family is SO amazing.  More on the cakes we made later in the week.

Wild Crinum
On Friday, blogged about the wild crinum growing in ditches.  I thought I'd get a better picture.  Check these out!  More bloomed since the last time I photographed them.  As you can see, they just grow in ditches, and pop up all along the sides of the road.

More wild crinum
So many more blooms.  After the blooming period is done, I'd like to try digging up a few.  The ditch was a bit wet today (and possibly 'snake-y', LOL).  And if I don't get them this year, I'm guessing I know exactly where to go next year, ha.  


FUEL FIGHTS, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY


Once again, a war poster image all about conservation.  This one urges citizens to save fuel because it saves manpower, material and equipment for war.  
I don't see anything on there that is not something we'd all be better off doing today.  Heck, I think we keep our thermostat  at 65/64 during the Winter months.  We do keep curtains and shaded pulled at night. We block off rooms that don't need to be heated, etc.  

It would be nice today to see posters like this today in stores and businesses, minus the war references of course.

Hope your weekend is going well.  As this posts, we'll be at the farm.  Today is check the garden day after a week of having it 'watering itself'.  We'll have to see what happened.  It's also a rainy day today.  Scattered showers, not monsoon rains, but it still limits outdoor work and of course, no 'zen machine' time this weekend.  Boo!

More later this afternoon or evening.  Check back!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

IT'S A WEDDING

Pardon our absence last night and today, we are at a wedding!
2nd Man's niece is getting married and it's been a whirlwind of activity...


...as we are in charge of the wedding cake.  It's a twist on a traditional cake, per bride and groom request, and I'll post pics all about it later.  Just didn't want everyone to wonder where we were since I usually post Friday night and Saturday.  This is a mobile post, hope it works!

Hope you are having a great weekend!


Friday, April 11, 2014

CRINUM WILDFLOWER TEXAS

Wild crinum
I didn't get a Feline Friday picture up this morning because we were working late last night on a project for this weekend, but more on that later.  For now, I wanted to get these pictures up, some wildflower photos we snapped recently.

I believe this one is called a crinum, but I'm not 100% sure.  They are growing in wet ditches along the roads around the farm.  Above is one of them blooming.  Below is what a whole bunch of them look like in a mass.  They are incredibly beautiful for something that just randomly pops up in the Spring.

I wish I could dig some up and put them around the farm 'on purpose', but I don't think it works that way, ha.

Wild crinum in roadside ditch

Thursday, April 10, 2014

BULBS IN POTS, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Bulbs in pots, photo courtesy of https://community.southernliving.com/
Image location is from Sarah Raven's garden at Perch Hill Farm (thanks Growntocook)
I found this online a few years ago, and loved the idea of growing bulbs in pots like this.  I wanted us to do it but I realize now it's just like getting them in the ground, you need to plan ahead.  Of course, the only thing I would not like is when they aren't blooming, it's just a clay pot full of dirt, ha.

Maybe they could be stored somewhere until bloom time?

Anyone ever grow bulbs in pots like this?  So pretty, that's for sure!

Be inspired!